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Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

CLEAM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/02)

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

The technical level required by the course is modest. Attending students should have taken an introductory course in microeconomics, a semester of calculus and an introductory course in statistics.

Mission & Content Summary

This course is an introduction to labour economics. The course objective is to understand how labour markets work and how they are affected by institutions and labour market policies. Both empirical evidence and standard theory are covered. The course highlights the effects on efficiency and the redistributive properties of institutions operating in imperfect labour markets, subject to market failures. This provides three reasons for the existence of institutions: i) remedying market failures, ii) achieving some redistributive goals, and iii) remedying potential negative side effects of other institutions.


The course consists of 9 key lectures. The three first lectures set up the stage by introducing workers' labor supply, firms' labor demand and the labor market equilibrium. Lecture 4 deals with human capital and education policies. Lecture 5 describes discrimination behaviors in the labor market and anti-discrimination laws. Each of the next 4 lectures deals with a specific labor market institution (subject to change).

  1. Labour supply.
  2. Labour demand.
  3. Equilibrium in the labor market.
  4. Human capital.
  5. Discrimination.
  6. Minimum wages.
  7. Employment protection legislation.
  8. Unemployment insurance.
  9. Active Labor Market Policies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • State the main evolutions on the OECD labor markets over the last decades.
  • Explain the economic models on labor markets and describe their main insights on labor supply, labor demand and equilibrium.
  • State the main estimates of the key parameters of the labor market models.
  • Discuss the role of institutions and public policies on the labor market.
  • Identify empirical contexts that allow to credibly estimate the effects of institutions and public policies on labor market outcomes.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Develop an ex ante theoretical analysis of the effects of institutions and public policies on employment and wages.
  • Choose and apply the appropriate model to assess the effects of institutions and public policies on labor market outcomes.
  • Interpret the empirical evidence on the effects of shocks (technology, policies...) on labor markets.
  • Interact in a constructive way and think critically.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)

The learning experience of this course includes, in addition to face-to-face lectures, the solution in class of Exercises proposed to students throughout the course. Those exercises allow students to apply the analytical tools illustrated during the course. Moreover stylized cases taken from scientific journal articles are proposed to students and discussed in class with the purpose of applying the models/methods explained during the course to evaluate the effects of a given institution or public policy. Students are encouraged to bring their own views and to share their insights.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x

    With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment is based on a written exam.

    • The written exam consists of exercises and open questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the analytical tools illustrated during the course, to solve and explain models on labor markets.
    • The exam also consists of discussing a public policy evaluation case, derived from a scientific journal article with empirical content. This case study is aimed to assess students’ ability to articulate economic reasoning and to evaluate the credibility of empirical results on the effects of labor market policies/institutions.
    • Students can take a partial written exam (1 hour) and complete the written exam at the end of the course (1 hour). In this case, the weight is: 50% for the partial exam and 50% for the end of term exam. Alternatively, students can take one final written exam that lasts two hours and accounts for 100% of the final grade.
    • There are no differences in the assessment methods of attending and non attending students.

    Teaching materials

    The course is based on two books :

    • G. BORJAS, Labour Economics, McGraw-Hill International edition, 7th edition.
    • T. BOERI, J. VAN OURS, The economics of imperfect labour markets, Princeton University Press, 2nd edition.

    The slides of the course, exercises and additional readings/listenings are uploaded to the Bboard platform of the course.

    Last change 27/05/2019 12:35